Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodniuk said in an interview with Radio Liberty that the Ukrainian General Staff is developing a plan for the withdrawal of forces and equipment from the demarcation line in the Donbas. The Minister specified that he is not speaking about the retreat, but the separation of forces.
"This should be done technically correctly because there are already military positions and a whole system of fortifications. We talked to the Military and the General Staff. No one will do this without preparation. Of course, we will work this out correctly to avoid excessive risks during the troop withdrawal. Of course, we will make sure that the other side is also withdrawing its troops," said Zahorodniuk.
When asked what would happen if only the Ukrainian side withdraws its troops, and the pro-Russian militants ignore it, the Defense Minister said, that "Troops won't be withdrawn at the same time everywhere. We will do it step by step. And it will also be supervised to ensure that this is done on both sides. And this is critical. This is not a concession."
"The withdrawal plan is now being developed. The Ukrainian General Staff is currently working on it. Of course, it will be presented, and all the risks will be considered. And of course, each of these areas will be prepared and explained. All technical issues, logistics, security issues will be worked out," added Zahorodniuk.
In the autumn of 2016, the participants of the Trilateral contact group signed an agreement on the separation of forces and equipment near the settlement of Petrovske, Zolote and Stanytsia Luhanska which are situated near the demarcation line. The withdrawal of troops took place (but it was short-lived) near Zolote on October 1, 2016, and near Petrovske on October 7, 2016.
The withdrawal of forces was postponed at Stanytsia Luhanska due to continuing shelling. The withdrawal of troops in these area was disrupted continuously and took place only in the summer of 2019.